"The Fighting Lady," directed by William Wyler, provides a portrait of
life on a World War II aircraft carrier, a vessel that is "enormous,
wonderful, and strange to us." After profiling the various activities
of the soldiers' day and following the ship's voyage through the Panama
Canal, the film takes the audience through a litany of actual combat
engagements. The Fighting Lady participates in a strike on the Marcus
Islands, then defends itself against a surprise nighttime raid by
Japanese fighters. Some of the photography comes from cameras set up in
the cockpits of American planes, showing first hand what it's like to be
diving through enemy anti-aircraft fire. The film culminates in a major
confrontation with the Imperial Japanese Battle Fleet. In this massive
operation, later dubbed the "Marianas Turkey Shoot," American pilots
downed almost four hundred Japanese Zeros, while incurring only
twenty-two losses themselves.
November 3, 2013 Subject:
Here come the Hellcats!
On board "the Fighting Lady" and other carriers of her class, was a new Grumman fighter, the F6F "Hellcat." With this and other modern aircraft of that time, the U.S. Navy began offensive operations in the Central Pacific. This was the beginning of the end for the Japanese Imperial Navy. As we see towards the end of the film, victory did not come without cost and sacrifice. There is surprisingly little hyper-patriotic glossing over in this documentary. It's quite honest about an unhappy skipper rousting out the flight deck crews as they're about to steam into dangerous waters. Equally so is the routine monotony that's broken by moments of sheer terror.
April 23, 2013 Subject:
Great film about carrier life in WWII
Nowadays most WWII documentaries are on the History Channel and reuse the same clips over and over. This film stands out because of the quality color and the depictions of all the mundane tasks that take place to support sending an aircraft into combat. I thought the loading of the aircraft, the crowded flight deck with engines running, and the ship anti-aircraft fire control scenes were particularly interesting. I like the close-ups in the officers dinning room showing how young these guys were and how many never came back.
November 9, 2010 Subject:
It was the north side Chicago, we lived on Berry ave in those days mostly a German American neighborhood, I don't remember the date but it must have been 1944, I was about 8 or so. None of my buddies were around this saturday so I went to the movies on my own, The Lincoln theater just off the junction of Lincoln and Belmont, showing this movie, The Fighting Lady, at the time I thought it thr best war film I hade ever seen. Of course the stuff I was used to usually involved John Wayne, The Fighting Seabees, or The Flying Tigers, or some such. I told my friends about it but none of them ever saw it, in fact I never met any one who saw it. Years latter I remembered the old film and tried to find it on video but no luck, later I found that though it had been released by a major studio, it had been recalled because there was some dispute about credits and the studio to avoid litigation withdrew all prints and destroyed them. That was it a lost film. So I now knew why I disliked Hollywood and all it is? Now it seems to have resurfaced in a public domain guise.
I know the original was credited as Directed by, (famous photographer) Edward Steichen, who headed the Naval unit that made the film, the photography was done by Dwight Long so that may be part of the conflict but certainly not all. The film was lost for fifty odd years because of all the kerfuffle and only recently resurfaced perhaps because it is now out of copyright. Best
April 16, 2010 Subject:
i just bought a set of military medals at a estate sale and wanted to check themk out. i took off the back to put one of the badges back on the display and there it was. the original movie poster. now here i am about to watch this. what an interesting day.
March 8, 2010 Subject:
A boyington conversation
Pappy Boyington of the black sheep, at a flyin
told us about a time while being a captive of a attack on his prison camp and seeing himself in a bomb crater via a naval aircraft video
in the Fighting Lady documentary.
Thanks for letting us see, been so many years.
September 30, 2007 Subject:
Beautifully filmed in color and exquisitely narrated by Robert Taylor, a realistic documentary of live aboard a fleet carrier during World War II.
Reviewer:Cherokee Jack -
January 31, 2007 Subject:
A carrier at war
This is the only film in the Cinemocracy listings that had no reviews, and I feel it's deserving of one. Shot in Kodachrome, this film depicts life onboard an Essex class carrier during WWII. Though not named in the film, most of the footage was shot onboard the USS Yorktown. "The Fighting Lady" highlights the saying that war is 99% boredom followed by 1% of sheer terror. We see footage of everyday life aboard the ship: from sailors stuck on KP duty to the aircrews responsible for arming and fueling planes to the pilots who manned them. At the end of the film we find out that some of the people depicted were KIA or MIA. I think that would have made more of an impact had they actually interviewed these people and create a relationship with the viewer rather than simply including them in the narration. I believe documentaries like this were created for presentations to workers in the factories (Grumman in this case) so that people who built the aircraft and material of war could see the end product of their efforts in action and making a difference in the war. A pretty good film that won the Best Documentary Oscar in 1945.